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Copy protection guidance

The guidance has been developed to assist public sector agreement (PSMA and OSMA) members in determining what protection they should be applying when displaying Ordnance Survey Licensed Data in an electronic format to third parties in accordance with those Member Licences.

The intellectual property rights of information providers are exposed by raw data being made available through live internet applications that deliver vector information or through desktop publishing applications where intelligence can easily be accessed.

This data must be protected to restrict the information that can be easily accessed through these types of application; this is especially relevant where applications deliver vector Ordnance Survey data that is not subject to an end user licence, but is instead simply displayed and protected by a copyright statement, watermarking and limited conditions.

The core Ordnance Survey content that Members need to protect is the link between map features and their national grid position, even if they are transformed to WGS84 coordinates or another geographic transformation system. Therefore, it would not be adequate for a Member to deliver information where the content is made directly available to the user in a ‘ready to use format’ such that they could extract information into their own application (i.e. an unprotected GeoPDF, GML, KML or proprietary GIS format). However, data that is translated into page coordinates for use in a vector viewer is better protected and would be appropriate for most levels of Ordnance Survey content delivered under terms permitting display to the public for viewing over the internet. The relative geometry of features is maintained but the absolute position is no longer provided to the user.

In the medium to longer term we can expect protection mechanisms to become part of computer operating systems or integrated into such systems to provide greater protection. Technologies such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) will allow us to distinguish between free content and paid for content such that, in the medium term, it will be possible to deliver vector information in controlled versions of documents like GeoPDF or, in the longer term, as raw data. However, for now please use sensible but appropriate measures when making Ordnance Survey content available in electronic format in accordance with the Member Licence.

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